GRO registers voters in low-income areas

Monday, June 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:55 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

Members of Grass Roots Organizing canvassed low-income neighborhoods Satuday asking residents if they were registered to vote.

GRO, whose membership is about 75 percent low-income, has organized several voter registration drives in historically low-income neighborhoods.

“The more low-income you are, the more government affects you,” said Mary Hussman of GRO.

Though Hussmann said the group will sign up anyone who wants to register to vote, the focus is on people with low incomes.

U.S. census statistics suggest that lower-income families have lower numbers when it comes to voter registration. A report detailing registration by selected characteristics in November 2000 showed the number of registered voters rises with income. In families with incomes of less than $5,000, about 55 percent of eligible household members reported they were registered to vote. In contrast, families with incomes of $75,000 or more reported 80 percent of eligible household members were registered voters.

During the voter registration drive Saturday, some said they weren’t registered and didn’t care to register, while others gladly filled out registration forms.

Ray Williams said he chooses not to vote. Williams said he doesn’t believe voting changes day-to-day life for him or other blacks.

“It’s not serving in the best interests of me and my people,” Williams said.

While he agreed that voting gives citizens a voice, Williams said that voice usually isn’t heard.

Judy Yoder said she was registered in another county years ago and had planned on registering but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. When GRO members showed up, Yoder decided it was time.

“I guess if everyone votes, it’ll make a difference. Every little bit helps,” she said.

As of the beginning of June, about 99,000 people were registered to vote in Boone County. Art Auer, elections director, said registration is on a constant uptick, especially with upcoming elections. The deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 3 primary is July 7 and the deadline for the Nov. 2 presidential general election is Oct. 6.

There are about 30 locations locally — including HyVee, Cool Stuff and Gerbes — where residents can fill out post card registration forms. They can also go to the County Clerk’s office at 801 E. Walnut St., Room 236, or visit the county clerk’s Web site,, and follow the links to print out a registration form.

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